As the fresh meat department deals with significant inflation, it appears that at least some consumers are shifting to frozen protein, according to data from IRI and 210 Analytics LLC. This, among other trends in the freezer aisle, has allowed July frozen food sales to pull even with their highly elevated 2020 levels.
In the past few months, normalization of shopping patterns have occurred, with a return to in-store shopping and spending more time in the grocery store. As such, July 2021 marked a return to prior-year sales levels for several areas of the store, including frozen, with all July weeks coming in close to $1.3 billion in sales for frozen food. While only two out of these four July weeks managed to post sales gains over the highly elevated 2020 levels, according to data, each week resulted in double-digit sales increases compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 baseline.
The rapid return to year-ago sales levels in July resulted in a few areas of the frozen food section outpacing 2020 sales. These increasingly popular products include breakfast foods (up 11.8%) and dinners/entrees (up 4.3%). Both of these sizable categories followed similar June 2021 trends, when breakfast foods rose 10.9% and dinners/entrees was up 4.9%. Other notable areas in July were frozen meat, up 2.7% over the high 2020 spikes, and processed chicken (up 10.4%).
However, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing an increase of new COVID-19 cases across the country in August, it’ll be interesting to see whether consumers will use the frozen aisle to stock up on essentials as they did during the height of the pandemic last year.
For a deeper dive into the numbers and statistics from July, the Arlington, Va.-based American Frozen Food Institute offers its members access to the latest "Retail Market Insights" report. The second annual report combines the results of more than 1,500 consumer surveys with retail measurement and consumption data from Chicago-based IRI.